- Californians and the Military
- Tyrone Power
- Actor, Marine Corps Aviator
- by M.L. Shettle, Jr.
Tyrone Power was born into an
acting family in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1914. He broke into motion
pictures in 1932 and by 1938 was established as a romantic swashbuckling
star and a national heart throb. After achieving stardom, Power
began taking flying lessons, earned a private pilot's license,
and purchased an aircraft. Patriotic fever was sweeping through
Hollywood in 1942 and many actors entered the services. Power
could have received a direct commission and a cushy job, but
his goal at the time was to become a Marine glider pilot. Because
of his age and lack of education, he did not qualify to enter
flight training as a cadet. The only recourse open was to enter
flight training as an officer; therefore, he enlisted as a private
in the Marine Corps in August 1942. He delayed entering active
duty sever al months to complete the war movie Crash Dive.
Power went through boot camp at San Diego and OCS at Quantico
before being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on June 2, 1943.
As an experienced pilot with 180 solo hours, Power went through
an accelerated flight training program at Corpus Christi. Since
he was considered too old for combat flying, Power trained in
the multiengine land pipeline as a prospective transport pilot.
He won his wings and was promoted to First Lieutenant. in April
1944. After receiving his wings, Power attended the Flight Instructor
Instrument School at NAS Atlanta - standard procedure for all
new transport pilots. Arriving at Cherry Point, NC in July, Power
was assigned to VMR-352 as an R5C copilot. Power and VMR-352
were based at El Centro from
October 1944 to January 1945.
- Power was reassigned to the R5C equipped
VMR-353, joined that squadron on Kwajalein in February, and moved
with that unit to Saipan in March. Power took part in the air
supply and evacuation of wounded from Iwo Jima and Okinawa. One
of VMR-353's aircraft was destroyed by a Japanese suicide squad
Orders sent Power back to the United States in November 1945
and the Marines released him from active duty in January 1946.
Power held the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign
Medal with two bronze stars, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Power returned to his acting career and made 22 motion pictures
after the war. He was promoted to Captain in the Reserves on
May 8, 1951, but was not recalled for the Korean War.
- While filming Solomon and Sheba in Madrid,
Spain on November 11, 1958, Power collapsed during a sword-fighting
scene with fellow actor George Sanders and died on the way to
the hospital of a heart attack at the age of 44.
- Copied with the permission of
the author from United
States Marine Corps Air Stations of World War II.